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3 career opportunities for IT Architects in 2021

2021 will be another great year for IT opportunities in general, but these three Architect roles really stand out!
Three lanes of traffic with long exposure streaks.

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It should come as no surprise that technology careers are growing faster than ever in 2021. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor, computer and IT occupations will grow 11% this decade, with more than half a million new job opportunities ripe for the picking. Not only that, but the median annual wage for tech roles is more than double the average wage for all other occupations, $88,240 compares to $39,810.

If you're looking for an overview of the best tech jobs for the future-focused candidate, here is a list that could be a great start and outlines the requirements, market growth, and the average salary of each, too.

If you're a little further down the line already and you know that the right fit for you is IT Architecture, let's take a deep dive into a few of the most popular positions for 2021 to help you to make an informed choice.

So you want to be a…. Cloud Architect!

A Cloud Architect will work with the rest of the technology team, including DevOps engineers and developers, to implement the right systems and processes for a cloud migration or strategy. They are responsible for guiding a complete cloud project from end to end and helping the business decision-makers to understand the technical landscape.

Cloud Architects have an extremely strong technical background, an understanding of on-premises and cloud environments, and good knowledge of a wide variety of operating systems as well as programming languages. Most successful Cloud Architects will understand networking back to front and have no trouble discussing elements such as HTTP, DNS, and TCP/IP.

As you will be working across multiple teams, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of important considerations such as security and compliance, too. At the same time, you will need impressive business skills, be able to establish strong best practices for cloud across the company, and perhaps setting up a cloud center of excellence, overseeing governance, and mitigating risk.

According to the latest data, the average Cloud Architect earns $128,418 per year for all of this hard work, and the role has a 4 star rating for job satisfaction.

Will I be able to work independently as a Cloud Architect?

There are certainly cloud consultancies that offer third-party cloud expertise to anyone from SMBs to enterprises embarking on new cloud projects. However, it's more common for a Cloud Architect to work in-house, establishing relationships and best practices across an organization from within.

Having said that, if you are working as a Managed Service Provider (MSP), Cloud Architecture can be a valuable skill to help you attract more clients or upsell services such as cloud consultancy and support during a cloud migration.

I'm sold! What should I do next?

Have a think about whether you want to become a Multi-cloud Architect or specialize in a particular cloud provider's offering. Each public cloud vendor offers certifications for attaining technical expertise from beginner to specialized advanced courses on networking, databases, and more. See if your employer will sponsor certifications from trusted vendors, such as Red Hat Certified Architect or the CCNA certification from Cisco.

Remember, according to Gartner, 81% of enterprises use two or more cloud providers, so you need to consider the pros and cons of investing heavily in certification with a single provider in this multi-cloud reality.

The cloud industry has seen "dizzying growth in cloud deployments" in response to the pandemic and the work-from-home reality we're all still facing. It's safe to say that Cloud Architect is a solid choice for anyone looking to expand their job opportunities in 2021.

So you want to be a… Cloud Network Architect!

A Cloud Network Architect (or Computer Network Architect or simply Network Architect) will spend their days designing digital systems and communications. Most applicants for these kinds of roles will have a bachelor's degree in engineering, computer science, or network administration, or equivalent work experience. If successful, you'll spend your days creating plans for complex networked systems and working with business and technical stakeholders to implement these plans according to the company's business goals.

This particular role is very in demand at the moment with the rise of 5G and IoT networks. Cloud Network Architects could work with companies to implement new IoT-related use cases and ensure that networks are built without errors or misconfigurations that could lead to mistakes, blind spots, or security vulnerabilities. They often work closely with security engineers and developers, who will implement their plans and layouts.

A Network Architect also earns very well, with an average salary of $121,791 in the US according to PayScale, and a similar satisfaction to a Cloud Architect, with a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Great! What are my next steps?

Besides the degree qualifications mentioned earlier, your best bet is to start getting experience and then work your way up. Good entry-level positions can help you pick up the right skills and experience, including network administrator or systems analyst. The same certifications mentioned earlier are also useful here, especially the vendor-specific ones.

As organizations continue to grow and develop their own networks, there will be no shortage of Network Architect positions up for grabs. The main goal will be to learn as much as possible, stay on top of how to build new networks, and maintain and upgrade existing infrastructure for the next innovation.

So you want to be an… Automation Architect!

Another role that's growing in popularity is that of the Automation Architect. 74% of today's organizations are looking for more opportunities for automation in their company. An Automation Architect is tasked with making this happen in line with business goals, which means that they need to have a strong understanding of everything going on in the company.

An Automation Architect will likely work closely with the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, and the Chief Technology Officer—and that's only covering the C-suite! After all, automation will impact the productivity of the entire company, so the roadmap needs to be implemented company-wide and align with the context of every department.

An Automation Architect will have deep knowledge of the company's technical backbone, recognizing how the different elements interplay with one another. For example, they may need to discuss with DevOps if application releases can be automated or with HR whether employee records management can be automated. They will likely be a deeply organized person, able to set standards for documentation, software configuration, testing, and compliance. All the while, they must ensure business continuity and communication across the organization.

Automation Architects are a slightly newer career choice, and at the moment, the salary median is at $101,114 per year.

This sounds like a great fit. Where do I start?

An Automation Architect's role is in some ways more of a technical position, requiring a deep understanding of automation tools, systems, processes, and best practices. Roles such as Test Automation Architect will be more technical still, and you can get up to speed with certifications such as the CSTAA.

On the other hand, it's equally important to have a good business mind, with a thorough grasp of KPIs, ROI, reporting, and analytics. You will likely become the champion for automation and, in some ways, innovation across the company, especially when other stakeholders are fearful of change or worried about job security.

While SMBs will often rely on Managed Service Provider software to automate critical aspects of their workload, such as software updates and patches, back-ups, and auto-healing scripts, it's becoming more common for large enterprises to create a role for this need.

Paul Delory, research director at Gartner, comments:"There is no one tool that will automate your entire data center. More importantly, there is no tool that will devise your automation strategy for you, or deal with the policy and organizational implications of an automation project.

If this sounds like the job description from heaven, you're in luck. While the job is increasingly in demand, there is no "one way" to start working in this role. Any technical or business background will help, such as an MBA or a Computer Science or Engineering Master's degree.

Make 2021 the year you snag the tech job you've always wanted

Whichever role feels right for you, technology is the #1 industry to be looking into for 2021, so you're in the best place you can be! It's time to brush up those skills, add a certification or two to your belt, soak up all the work experience you can, and make 2021 a year to remember!

Topics:   Career  
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Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy is the President of More about me

Navigate the shifting technology landscape. Read An architect's guide to multicloud infrastructure.


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